New Battery Plant Positions North Mississippi for Continued Growth

It’s about noon on Thursday in Red Banks, Mississippi.

In the white-trimmed, ruby-red building at North Red Banks Road and state Highway 178, a whiff of succulent brisket hangs in the air, peppered with peals of laughter and lively chatter among diners venturing in for barbecue sandwiches and fried okra.

Bob Marley wails over the radio, though he’s interrupted more than once by a ringing phone.

It’s yet another to-go order – a sure sign of a steady lunchtime pace inside Clancy’s Catfish and Barbecue Cafe.

“We’re all family here,” says Tyler Clancy, who has co-owned this restaurant with his wife, Lacy, since 2011. “We’re a small but diverse community.”

Small, but with big things on the horizon.

Red Banks and neighboring towns in Marshall County are undergoing a revitalization, thanks in large part to economic development projects spearheaded by civic and business leaders from Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

At the epicenter of this progress is Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park, the future home of a $1.9 billion facility that will manufacture batteries for the electric vehicle industry and for commercial and industrial uses.

The facility, slated to open in 2027, is a joint venture among Daimler Truck, Paccar Inc. and the Cummins energy technology company, Accelera.

Once completed, the complex is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs, each paying an average of $66,000 a yearThe annual payroll – about $132 million – will be the largest payroll commitment in the state’s history.

“A lot of changes are coming to this town,” Clancy said. “As a business owner, I’m all for it.”

Clancy's Cafe in Red Banks, Mississippi

Clancy’s Cafe is one of many Marshall County businesses that stand to benefit from a $1.9 billion battery manufacturing facility coming to Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park.

Igniting the Spark

Clancy’s Cafe is one of the many north Mississippi businesses that have flourished in the wake of ambitious economic development plans that took root nearly a decade ago.

The momentum around Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park started in 2014 when a Danish building materials manufacturer, Rockwool International, launched operations at the site.

That ignited a spark of growth, with giants like Nike, Asics and Milwaukee Tools rapidly following suit with facilities at the site.

Over the last decade, this translated into approximately 5,500 new jobs and just over $1.5 billion in capital investments, Justin Hall, executive director at Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, said.

“That’s not bad for a community of around 35,000,” Hall said.

The 3,600-acre industrial park, near Byhalia, Mississippi, also houses Marshall County’s workforce training center, a partnership with Northwest Mississippi Community College that offers WIN Job Center services, adult education and training for industry jobs.

With the new battery plant, the county stands to enjoy an upward trajectory for years to come.

The industrial park is a vast change from the mostly bucolic landscape in the early 2000s.

“This place was a cow pasture about 18 years ago,” said Dwayne Casey, Northwest Mississippi Community College’s associate vice president of workforce solutions and career technical education. “And look at where it is now.”

Aerial view of Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park

A portion of the sprawling Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park in Marshall County, Mississippi.

‘Catalyst for Change’

TVA and its partners set the stage for the new battery manufacturing plant about eight years ago.

TVA’s Economic Development team and Marshall County Industrial Development Authority scouted possible locations for a large manufacturing facility.

In promoting economic development – a key component of TVA’s mission in the seven-state region – TVA works to advance transformative projects that ensure an outsized impact on local businesses and entrepreneurs.

In 2015, TVA studied more than 19,000 acres in Marshall County, narrowing the search to 500 acres at Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park.

The first order of business: power capacity.

TVA invested $47 million to build a 161-kilovolt transmission line reaching the southern portion of the property, increasing the capacity and infrastructure needed for an energy-intensive manufacturing facility.

“Our goal was to attract a large manufacturing facility,” Bill Adams, senior project manager of global business for TVA Economic Development, said. “The ability to deliver a significant amount of power in a timely manner was a key driver in this project.”

With contributions from local, state and federal agencies – including TVA, Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission and Mississippi’s Site Development Grant Program – the site received necessary infrastructure improvements, enhancing its marketability.

That meticulous work paid off when Cummins, Daimler and Paccar placed a request for proposal on the property.

In January 2024, Mississippi legislators then approved a $482 million incentive package, cementing the investment from Cummins, Daimler and Paccar.

Construction on the 21-gigawatt-hour factory is slated to begin later this year.

“To have a project like this land on this area of Mississippi is truly going to be a catalyst for change,” said Amy Tate, regional executive for TVA’s Southwest Region. “It’s a domino effect that affects these communities in such a positive way. We’ll be seeing this paid forward for generations.”

And while TVA’s Economic Development team is celebrating the grand slam in Marshall County, other joyous innings remain.

“When you get a deal like this, it’s just the beginning,” John Bradley, TVA’s senior vice president of Economic Development, said. “We’ll continue marketing Marshall County. Good sites are not easy to find, and this is truly a good site. We’re just going to continue seeing growth in that area.”

Marshall County realtor Roley Real

Roley Real, a Marshall County realtor, anticipates an uptick in home ownership as the battery manufacturing facility project gets underway.

New Workers, New Homes

Signs of growth abound.

Entering Marshall County along U.S. Highway 72, the cotton and wheat fields give way to construction trucks, road work and ample hints of good things to come.

“Future Travel Center Coming Soon,” teases one sign. “New Homes Available,” heralds another.

Clancy’s cafe saw its sales jump during the initial economic activity in 2014, when workers from nearby companies began stopping in for meals and box lunches.

That prompted the cafe to hire more employees and invest in a kitchen expansion, paving the way for a growing catering business.

When 2027 rolls around, the cafe will no doubt see additional business from workers at the new manufacturing facility.

Marshall County leaders are boosting the local talent pool by offering industry-specific training at the community college’s workforce training center, which in the past three years has already logged a 40% increase in skills-based enrollment.

And over the next three years, more than 900 new homes are slated for construction within a 2-mile radius of the industrial park. With an average housing price of $260,000 in Byhalia, Mississippi – and the promise of good-paying jobs – local realtors like Roley Real are preparing for a surge in new residents.

“Many people will become the first in their families to own a home,” Real said. “With homeownership, you boost a sense of community and appreciation for your town. It’s an overall positive.”

Area towns can expect to see an increase in tax revenue for schools and community resources. The uptick in activity could extend into surrounding towns such as Olive Branch and Holly Springs, in Mississippi, and Collierville, in Tennessee.

“We were seeing an increase in dining and retail, even before the battery plant was announced,” Laura Taylor, executive director of Byhalia Area Chamber Main Street, said. “This new development will change our entire socioeconomic landscape.”

Cash Saver grocery proprietor Fred Carlisle

Cash Saver grocery proprietor Fred Carlisle anticipates the growth at Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park will benefit residents all throughout Marshall County. “It should be a big boost for us,” he said.

‘The American Dream’

Cash Saver grocery has been a cornerstone of Holly Springs, Mississippi, since 1963.

Proprietor Fred Carlisle has built a lasting business by understanding his customers’ needs and concerns. He greets patrons at the door with a warm smile, an eager handshake and an empathetic ear.

He’s seen the community overcome its share of challenges, from tornadoes to severe winter storms to inevitable swings in economic activity.

This new development changes things.

“We’ve never had a company come in and offer that many jobs at that kind of pay scale for our people,” Carlisle said. “It’s going to be life-changing.

“When people have more money, they’re going to be able to spend more money. I think it’s going to open a lot of retail around Marshall County. It should be a big boost for us.”

Alongside that growth comes challenges, so there’s plenty of exciting work ahead.

But as Carlisle and his fellow community members navigate the change, they’re not alone.

TVA and its partners are powering forward with them, arm-in-arm, fulfilling the enterprise’s mission of service in Marshall County and beyond.

“It’s the American Dream,” Bradley said. “I hear stories all the time of people that would never have been able to buy a house or educate their kids if it wasn’t for these types of projects. We have a great team and a very fulfilling job. The work never gets old.”

PHOTO AT TOP OF PAGE: Tyler Clancy, owner of Clancy’s Cafe in Red Banks, Mississippi, has seen his business grow thanks to developments at Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park.